Japan Announces 4 'Prospective' Areas for Wind Power Generation

2019/08/05 15:21
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo & Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
A rendered image of the wind power generation project off the coast of the north part of Akita Prefecture (source: Obayashi)

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) announced July 30, 2019, that they have designated four areas as "prospective areas" for wind power generation.

The four areas are located off the coasts of (1) Noshiro City, Mitane-cho and Oga City (Akita Prefecture), (2) Yurihonjo City (Akita Prefecture) (north and south sides), (3) Choshi City (Chiba Prefecture) and (4) Goto City (Nagasaki Prefecture), respectively. And wind farms will be developed in those regions prior to other regions.

The four areas were designated as "promotion areas" based on the "Law for the Promotion of Special Sea Areas Used for Power Generation Using Renewable Energy" (also known as "New Offshore Law").

The ministries selected 11 areas that have already been prepared for wind power generation to a certain extent and designated four of them as "prospective" because environments for wind power generation (e.g. agreement with local communities) have been advanced in the four areas. They will start preparations for wind/geological condition researches by councils, the Japanese government, etc soon.

In addition to the four areas, seven areas have been prepared to a certain degree. They are (1) an area off the coast of Happou-cho and Noshiro City (Akita Prefecture), (2) area off the coast of Katagami City (Akita Prefecture), (3) the Sea of Japan off the coast of Aomori Prefecture (north side), (4) the Sea of Japan off the coast of Aomori Prefecture (south side), (5) Mutsu Bay (Aomori Prefecture), (6) area off the coast of Murakami City and Tainai City (Niigata Prefecture) and (7) area off the coast of Enoshima (Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture).

The areas that were not designated as "prospective areas" this time might be designated as "prospective areas" in the next fiscal year or after that.

For each area, the two ministries also wrote notices regarding future processes by, for example, saying that there are needs for (1) environments including agreements with local communities, (2) negotiations with interested parties and (3) arrangements for preventing world heritages from being affected.

With the New Offshore Law, promotion areas are designated for each fiscal year in the aim of building offshore wind power generation facilities, and power producers are selected from the public and through a bidding process. Each selected power producer is permitted to exclusively use a sea area for up to 30 years.

The ministries arranged the areas based on (1) the "Guidelines for the Designation of Areas for Promoting the Construction of Offshore Renewable Energy-based Power Generation Facilities," which were formulated June 11, 2019, (2) information from prefectures, (3) opinions from a third-party committee, etc.

In the four areas that were designated as prospective areas this time, private business operators have already started various researches and environmental impact assessment processes in the aim of developing offshore wind power plants.

In the area off the coast of Noshiro City, Mitane-cho and Oga City (Akita Prefecture), Obayashi Corp, The Kansai Electric Power Co Inc, etc aim to start operation of a 455MW offshore wind power plant in fiscal 2024 or later. In the area off the coast of Yurihonjo City (Akita Prefecture), Renova Inc, Cosmo Eco Power Co Ltd and JR-East Energy Development Co Ltd are planning to build an offshore wind power plant with an output of up to 1GW through joint investment.

In the area off the coast of Choshi City (Chiba Prefecture), Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc and Orix Corp respectively conducted business feasibility tests. In the area off the coast of Goto City (Nagasaki Prefecture), Toda Corp is planning to build a 22MW floating offshore wind power plant and raised part of the fund by issuing green bonds.

Whether power producers that are moving forward with developments ahead of others will be prioritized in the bidding to be carried out in the future and what kinds of priorities they will be given are also issues that are drawing attention.